You can’t rush whiskey. Right? For most intents and purposes this is entirely true; however, with the ever-growing whiskey world there are some trends starting to build momentum. Among these hot new topics is home-aging of spirits. While home-aging is exactly what it sounds like, there’s a lot more to it than buying a mini oak keg and pouring a bottle of your favorite hooch in there. Enter, the OakBottle.
So let’s take a look at this handsome vessel (phrasing?) and see what’s going on. Per the packaging and instructions you will condition the OakBottle for first use. There’s a pre-conditioning and swelling process that basically amounts to filling the bottle with water and submerging the entire [filled] bottle in water overnight. This will allow the wood to swell enough to properly seal up any naturally-formed gaps in the bottle…or some such science thing.
Now for the fun part: getting some liquor in the OakBottle for aging! The very first thing I did after conditioning the bottle was pour some 40% ABV (80 proof) white dog whiskey into the OakBottle and let it rest for twenty four hours. Lo and behold, it worked! A fine mature and delicious whiskey…I did not have; however, that wasn’t really the goal or expectation. I’m a firm believer in the concept of “garbage in–garbage out” and 80 proof white dog, in this guy’s opinion, can frequently be described as garbage indeed. What I can say for certain is that the impact on the product was very evident, both in mouthfeel and in flavor. The particular product I tested with is their “Micro” which I believe is one of the most rapid-aging vessels due to the surface area to liquid volume ratio. It’s plain to see that the product does what it claims to, although I’m unsure you’d convince me to drink 40%ABV white dog regardless of what was done to it.
For centuries, winemakers and distillers have used oak to bring out the best in wine and spirits. The biggest problem aside from the cost of oak barrels is the amount of time it takes for the oaking process to work. This is where the Oak Bottle comes in. Using a simple volume to surface area equation it’s easy to understand how a vessel with more surface area touching less volume can infuse the wine or spirit quicker.
Sounds simple enough on paper, right? Put a spirit into the container and let it rest. The magic happens while you wait. In a future post I’ll tackle some experiments and share results on tracking the spirit’s age. Things in the hopper will be: bringing Ancient Ancient Age up to an estimated age of Blanton’s to see if we can turn “baby Blanton’s” into it’s big brother, a barrel-aged cocktail (probably a Manhattan), and barrel-aged coffee beans…which could potentially turn into another barrel-aged cocktail immediately after the beans do some time in oak.
Speaking of the aging process, you can “add a barrel finish” to a spirit through the OakBottle App (on iOS) and it will help you calculate the time needed to properly finish your hooch. in the OakBottle. You can toss your notes into the app, and over time it will aggregate data from tastings and build a profile of your palate according to the notes and scores you supply. In theory–after you’ve input enough tastings–it should know which spirits you will like before you know. Which, in some iRobot film ways is spooky, but it’s also next-level stuff that will likely outshine the OakBottle product in the long run if you ask me.
The OakBottle is certainly a cool item, and would likely make a great Father’s Day gift for your spirit geek Dad; however, it’s more than a one-trick pony, which was refreshing for us. Quite frankly, there was more than just a bit of doubt in rapidly aging–well–anything and having it be palatable. We’ve all seen the mini wooden kegs where you can supposedly age your whiskey and have pours straight from the barrel…and we’ve all politely smiled and thanked the person who gifted it to us before politely putting it in the attic to die a slow death (not that I’d know). Gimmicky products have their place as novelties, but the OakBottle is the strongest contender I have seen in this arena. This would, I believe, appeal to spirit enthusiasts and science fiends alike.
If you’re interested in barrel-aging a wide array of products like gin, wine, whiskey, hell…even coffee, you might consider the OakBottle. While I don’t know exactly the lifespan, I have to believe there is a finite amount of use you’ll get from the OakBottle itself, but the big-picture with this brand seems to be you can use their app to start tracking bottles and build yourself a set of cloud-based tasting notes, as well as a profile of your own spirit-tasting preferences. Looking forward to seeing the future of this.
TheBourbonFinder thanks OakBottle for graciously providing us a sample of their product. Being able to try new things in the whiskey space, without strings attached, is an opportunity we greatly appreciate. Per our review ethos, we provide objective reviews and commentary on media samples of spirits and products; remember, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!